OUS launches Solar By Degrees

EOU will play role in state’s largest solar power program

News contact: Laura Hancock
University Advancement | Eastern Oregon University
Phone: 541-962-3585 | E-mail: lhancock@eou.edu
Source contact: Diane Saunders | Oregon University System
Phone: 503-725-5714 (o); 971-219-6869 (c)
solar panels

Installation of the solar array at EOU is slated to begin later this fall and will cover approximately four acres on campus. It is estimated to produce an annual output of 1,538,074 kilowatt-hours.

August 18, 2011

LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) - The Oregon University System has unveiled what will be the state’s largest solar photovoltaic power program and the largest solar contract in the nation for a public university system on multiple campuses.

Solar arrays will eventually become a fixture on all seven OUS campuses – including EOU – as part of the Solar By Degrees program, one of five renewable energy demonstration projects OUS has developed.

During the first phase, a total of 27 acres of solar panels generating almost 5 megawatts of power will be installed at Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University and EOU. OIT is the first campus to break ground on the project.

Installation of the EOU array is slated to begin later this fall and will cover approximately four acres on campus. It is estimated to produce an annual output of 1,538,074 kilowatt-hours.

“In the past several years we have identified ways to lower energy consumption and reduce our carbon footprint and we’re excited about the potential for hands-on research and study the solar array will provide for our students and faculty,” said Bob Davies, EOU president.

“This is just one more unique aspect of what EOU can offer to Oregon students to enrich their learning opportunities and prepare them for jobs – today and tomorrow – and initiate new ways of doing business,” Davies added.

Oregon was recently ranked number two in the U.S. for green jobs by a 2011 Brookings Institution study, with 3.4 percent of employment in “clean jobs.” Through this project, OUS can further extend its role as the training ground for the state’s current and future green workforce.

OUS also expects the direct energy cost savings to be substantial over the life of the system, approximately $6.6 million combined in utility rates. Savings for EOU are estimated at $1.1 million.

The solar panels carry a 25-year warranty, but frequently produce for more than 40 years at 80 percent efficiency. EOU will share in the net revenue of the power output and retain all of the environmental attributes. The university will also have the option to purchase the system after six years from REDCO, the Utah-based renewable energy development firm providing solar power to each campus.

REDCO’s team includes investors willing to utilize state and federal tax incentives, allowing the power purchase rate to be at or below the current electrical utility rates for the campuses.

Internships with REDCO focusing on renewable energy will afford students the opportunity to gain highly relevant experience within the alternative/clean energy industry. The firm will also assist with developing curricula related to elements of the project at each campus during the initial five years.

An “all-Oregon” project, Solar By Degrees will utilize panels from Hillsboro-based SolarWorld, and solar inverters from PV Powered of Bend. Oregon Electric of Portland is the lead contractor for the project, and other Oregon contractors have been hired to complete installation and related work at OIT, OSU and EOU.

For more information visit www.ous.edu.

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